Guidelines in place for strong boardPublished 7:51pm Tuesday, February 4, 2014
I’m overly drawn to the Alabama Association of School Board’s six standards for an effective board; and my reasons are obvious.
Standard number one encourages us to operate as a visionary, ethical governance team. Vision is of extreme importance in what we do as a school board because we are actually responsible for setting policies for our district; overseeing our budget, hire and fire the superintendent and the chief school financial officer; and reviewing pertinent data to determine if we are on the right track.
How we deal with the preceding factors affects our effectiveness as a district. The ethical elements of standard 1 may demand we do not micromanage, be principled, and abstain from voting on, or trying to influence, personnel actions, contracts, etc. involving family and friends.
The second on the list is focus on student achievement. This to a large extent should be our most important role but unfortunately politics and power struggle can deny us the ample opportunities of spending meaningful time on this matter.
It is usually rewarding whenever we spend quality time on how to recruit the good teachers and, also, how to help the good ones, we already have, maximize their potentials.
Standard number three encourages us to create local policy in compliance with state and financial laws. The federal and state have their standards as they pertain to management in education and when we are not certain, we’ve always relied on the expertise of our attorney. The bulk of our financial resources come from state and the federal and it will be unwise not to align with entities that have more capabilities to establish standards that are backed with proven research.
Number four standard advises we act with fiscal responsibility. Regardless of what territory, if you get $40 a week and spend $45 a week, you are bound to get into trouble. More troubles remain, if the expenses are made on unnecessary items and not in order of priorities. That’s why we’ve benefited from hiring hard working CSFOs with good expertise.
Since I have been on Selma City School Board, I can attest to the fact we’ve had good and God-fearing CSFO’s like Mrs. Glover and Mrs. Harris.
Standard number five advises that we hire and support an effective superintendent and I agree 100 percent.
If you mistakenly hire an ineffective superintendent, the whole system falls apart because he or she is the CEO who sets the tone, initiates good ideas, recommends to the board; hires, manages other administrators, and fires with the endorsement of the board.
The board and stakeholders must trust a superintendent. Line of communication must be open between superintendent, board and stakeholders.
I have worked with four superintendents and I can easily conclude that good superintendents are good instructional and administrative leaders; good listeners that listen without bias, the opinions from different constituencies that make up the district, and then make the best decision or conclusion.
The last on the list advises we advocate for public education through communication with stakeholders.
Experience also teaches me a board and superintendent will have some troubles if they habitually refuse to talk and listen to parents, community residents, political officials, volunteers and etc.